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1970s Chicago Schwinn Varsity specs

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1970s Chicago Schwinn Varsity specs

Old 04-23-11, 09:45 PM
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hollowmen
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1970s Chicago Schwinn Varsity specs

I just picked up an old Chicago-build Schwinn Varsity, and I'm looking to rebuild it.

My best guess is it was made sometime in the early 70s (pre-1975). I was wondering if anyone knew of any resources that could give me the specs for the bike. I'm looking to buy new components and I want to make sure they fit.

I'm looking for drop-out distance, bottom bracket size, head tube diamater, etc. Basically any details I can get my hands on without having to risk just measuring everything.

Thanks
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Old 04-23-11, 10:01 PM
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A truly frightening amount of information is available.

First step is to ascertain the Serial Number, which is either on the lower left of the head tube as you face the bike or on the rear left dropout (I don't think any Varsities were old enough to have the SN appear on the bottom bracket).

Next decode the serial number to find out what model year you have (not that they aren't mostly identical; there are a few differences across years).

https://www.bunchobikes.com/serialnumber.htm

This chart will tell you the very day it was made.

https://www.angelfire.com/rant/allday...innCodes1.html

Next, consult the catalogues to get as much information as possible.

Lots of summary spec data at the SLDB:

https://velobration.com/sldatabook/

For some years, more detail is available here:

https://www.trfindley.com/pg_schwinn_cats.htm

If you have more specific questions (like you're planning on updating or whatever) just ask here and the friendly folks will answer.

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Old 04-23-11, 10:02 PM
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Oh, yeah, and if you really want to get on people's good side, you'll post some nice, well-lit pics of your bike.
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Old 04-23-11, 10:09 PM
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Since you asked about dropout spacing, you might be wishing to upgrade wheels. Provide details and we can talk about options.

The varsity has the US standard one-piece bottom bracket. I'm pretty sure it's compatible with other, modern one-pieces (like bmx bikes). Of course, you can install an adapter if you want to go three piece.

The weird measurements for the varsity, continental, and other schwinns of the era are the steerer tube ID, which uses .833" stems, and the very small-diameter seatpost.

You can get all the general nitty-gritty details for this type of bike here: https://www.sheldonbrown.com/chicago-schwinns.html

The one thing that probably everybody should upgrade on these bikes is the brake pads. Salmon kool-stops are sort of the gold standard; however, even upgrading to decent quality pads will make a huge difference in braking power, even in the rain. If the bike is in good shape, I hope you'll consider keeping it original.
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Old 04-23-11, 10:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Roll-Monroe-Co View Post
Oh, yeah, and if you really want to get on people's good side, you'll post some nice, well-lit pics of your bike.
Haha got it.

Here are the ones I've taken so far. Picked it up for a steal, with all original parts. I'll make sure to post pictures as I put more work into it.







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Old 04-23-11, 10:44 PM
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Headtube diameter is different, too. Easiest to keep the Schwinn cups and cones. The steerer OD is normal I think.
I love Sunset Orange.
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Old 04-23-11, 10:56 PM
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What's the serial number? It'll be on the head tube just above the lower bearing cup. Once we have the serial number, we can determine the month and year it was manufactured. I have several factory specifications manuals from the seventies.

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Old 04-24-11, 12:05 AM
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Oldroads.com for the Schwinn serial number data.
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Old 04-24-11, 07:11 AM
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Originally Posted by sailorbenjamin View Post
Headtube diameter is different, too. Easiest to keep the Schwinn cups and cones. The steerer OD is normal I think.
I love Sunset Orange.
The old chrome plated steel headsets used on these were heavy but were good quality and would last forever with very little care.
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Old 04-24-11, 07:29 AM
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Originally Posted by kingsting View Post
The old chrome plated steel headsets used on these were heavy but were good quality and would last forever with very little care.
LOL, I agree. Pretty much everything on them fall into that category. They were known to err on the side of durability on all their components. Those bottom brackets will last forever!
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Old 04-24-11, 07:33 AM
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The small diameter seat tube (1") makes it a bit difficult to find a non Schwinn front derailluer that will clamp to it without making a shim. From the color it is probably a 1973. Roger
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Old 04-24-11, 08:44 AM
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Wow. All original and pretty good condition. I'd go new tires/tubes, cables, and brake pads. Keep the Ft. Wayne bike license for luck and patina. If you replace parts, keep the originals in a box in the closet for when you realize you should have gone for a restoration rather than making it light and rideable.

You can get all the schwinn chrome to shine like the sun. Don't use steel wool--it will scratch and dull. Brass wool or oxalic or acetic acid.

Paint can be spiffed up with a soap/water bath and Meguir's scratch-x or just turtle wax. Careful with any abrasive on the decals.
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Old 04-24-11, 08:46 AM
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Not to imply your chrome looks bad. Lots less rust than most other examples.
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Old 04-24-11, 04:50 PM
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Serial number is AJ520913

From the looks of it, it was manufactured in January of 1973.

Any info on the specs for a Varsity from '73?
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Old 04-24-11, 06:01 PM
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Originally Posted by hollowmen View Post
Serial number is AJ520913

From the looks of it, it was manufactured in January of 1973.

Any info on the specs for a Varsity from '73?
Yep; AJ = January 1973. I don't have the '73 specs, but here are the '72 specs:



The 1973 Schwinn Parts & Accessories catalog has parts descriptions by part number. I have the '73 P&A catalog, so let me know the part numbers you're interested in, and I'll try to post the P&A catalog page with those part numbers.
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Last edited by Scooper; 04-24-11 at 06:14 PM.
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Old 04-24-11, 06:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Scooper View Post

The 1973 Schwinn Parts & Accessories catalog has parts descriptions by part number. I have the '73 P&A catalog, so let me know the part numbers you're interested in, and I'll try to post the P&A catalog page with those part numbers.
Are the part numbers the same as those in the '72 specs you posted?

Thanks for that, by the way! You guys have been an awesome help so far.
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Old 04-24-11, 06:35 PM
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Schwinn doesn't exist anymore and hasn't for 19 years so those part numbers are basically worthless. Schwinn is now an office in Madison WI that orders bikes from China. They have no or almost no parts system. Roger
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Old 04-24-11, 06:55 PM
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Originally Posted by hollowmen View Post
Are the part numbers the same as those in the '72 specs you posted?

Thanks for that, by the way! You guys have been an awesome help so far.
As Roger says, the part numbers themselves are basically worthless today, except that those part numbers are described in various levels of detail in the Parts & Accessories catalog. For the most part, the 1973 Varsity specs will be the same as the 1972 Varsity specs.

As an example of the part number description, the rear derailler part number is 20 456. Looking at the 1973 Parts & Accessories catalog page, 20 456 is described as "Schwinn-Approved. Used on Varsity, 10-speed Suburban, Continental, all Sting-Ray, Fastback, Manta-Ray and Twinn Deluxe Models. Also used on Collegiate prior to 1970."

These derailleurs were made for Schwinn by Huret.

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Old 04-24-11, 07:46 PM
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Originally Posted by hollowmen View Post
I just picked up an old Chicago-build Schwinn Varsity, and I'm looking to rebuild it....I'm looking to buy new components and I want to make sure they fit....
Looking at the picture you posted, it's quite a nice survivor, the only parts it needs are tires and tubes. All the parts look to be in great shape, I'd give it a good cleaning and overhaul. Upright bars and a nice saddle are common upgrades.
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Old 04-24-11, 08:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Mr IGH View Post
Looking at the picture you posted, it's quite a nice survivor, the only parts it needs are tires and tubes. All the parts look to be in great shape, I'd give it a good cleaning and overhaul. Upright bars and a nice saddle are common upgrades.
I know everyone is probably going to hate me for this, but I'm going to replace pretty much the whole drivetrain, as well as build a new wheelset for it. I'm converting it into a ss fixed for city use.

While I'm working on that though, I'm going to clean up all the old components and keep them around. If I regret making it light and ridable, I can throw the original components on and have a nice, restored vintage bike.
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Old 04-24-11, 08:46 PM
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Originally Posted by hollowmen View Post
I know everyone is probably going to hate me for this..I'm converting it into a ss fixed for city use....
Not me, I like seeing those old bike get used.

If you want to use a set of square taper 3 piece cranks, use this to convert the bottom bracket:
https://www.universalcycles.com/shopp...&category=2634
and then a 68mm Shimano Un-54 bb (spindle width depends on the cranks you use):
https://www.universalcycles.com/shopp...4&category=347

For the wheels, the frame is 120mm rear axle spacing, 700C wheels will fit fine, the rear brake may be a little short. You can file the pad slots or go with a longer brake.

Stem is 0.833 or 21.1mm, you can keep the stock stem and use 1" bars, there are replacement stems but they're more for old farts wanting to raise the bars up 10".

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Old 04-24-11, 08:55 PM
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Can I ask where you live / where you found the bike?

I grew up in Fort Wayne. Its always interesting to see those stickers and imagining the journey they had to get to their current locations.
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Old 04-24-11, 09:02 PM
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Originally Posted by hollowmen View Post
IWhile I'm working on that though, I'm going to clean up all the old components and keep them around. If I regret making it light and ridable, I can throw the original components on and have a nice, restored vintage bike.
Kinda hard to make a Varsity light.

Probably less expensive and definately better ride would be to go this route.
https://www.nashbar.com/webapp/wcs/st...https:ClickInfo

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Old 04-24-11, 10:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Mr IGH View Post
Not me, I like seeing those old bike get used.
Ditto from me- although I would rebuild the rear wheel with a coaster brake and strip everything else off. That would make a near-perfect bombproof beater. I would keep all the old parts, though.
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Old 04-24-11, 11:22 PM
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Originally Posted by hollowmen View Post
them around. If I regret making it light and ridable, I can throw the original components on and have a nice, restored vintage bike.
Sporting of you to play along. Keep us informed on your rebuild.

Re: Lightening. The Varsity's main quality is its indestructibility. Even stripped of all its steel components, it's not going to get very light.

It may be easiest to keep the seatpost and headset. Aluminum stems that fit (cheapie but functional Win and Jun brands that usually seem to have low rise and very short extensions) can be had from folks here, the bike coop, or ebay. The existing brakes will work fine with new pads and are themselves pretty light weight. They polish up nice with aluminum polish (i.e. Mother's mag polish) if you're into that sort of thing. As I said earlier, BB will need an adapter if you want to lighten that up. Other stuff can be replaced.

Keep in mind that it might be hard or impossible to get 700c wheels to work without new long-reach brakes.
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